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The Beauty Queen Redefining Modern Pageantry.

By Ricky Matthew

Photo credit: Allan Macala

CHRISTCURCH – Beauty pageants have evolved significantly in recent years, transitioning from a narrow focus on physical appearance to encompass broader values such as community service and social impact. This shift reflects a growing awareness of societal issues like body dysmorphia and mental health.

One beauty queen, Hillary Harris from Christchurch with Kiwi/European, Māori and Filipino heritage, has been involved in beauty pageants from a young age and is now making a return to the stage. However, her passion goes beyond showing of her appearance. She is redefining pageantry and beauty as a force for positive change in the world.

Hillary participates in community and charity focused events to feed her hunger for giving back. “I enjoy pageants because of the community side of it and giving back and I gain some personal confidence in myself as well,” says Hillary.

“I’m a huge foodie and animal lover. I love helping others. I love to give back to the community and try to take part and donate to multiple charity organisations.

“Since a young age, my mum really instilled in me the value of being part of the Filipino community. So, I used to do the local Filipino pageants like Little Miss Philippines.” This early involvement instilled in her a sense of belonging and commitment to the Filipino community.

Hillary’s personal experiences have fueled her determination to help others. “I lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 12 so I try to help the Breast Cancer Foundation. I also support the Endometriosis Foundation and donate blood often,” she says.

Her journey into pageantry continued into high school, where a spur of the moment decision turned into a lifelong passion. “When I was in high school, I watched a friend do a pageant and they asked me if I wanted to join, and then I ended up winning. The prize was a free entry to join Miss Universe. I always regretted not continuing further because I thought I was too young,” says Hillary as she reflects on her journey into pageantry.

After a brief hiatus, Hillary is now returning to competing in pageants. “Now I feel like it is a good time to dive back into that sort of thing,” she says confidently.

Her upcoming pageant is the Miss Canterbury in Christchurch. As a finalist for this competition, she is supporting a well-known Kiwi mental health charity. “The current charity we are working with is ‘I Am Hope’, which is a mental health organisation to help raise funds for young adults around New Zealand to get free counselling.”
To raise funds for her cause, Hillary organises fundraisers that have a great turnout.

“Recently I had an event fundraiser where more people turned up than I expected.”
Hillary’s passion doesn’t end with pageants and fundraisers. “I want to start my own charity eventually,” she reveals. Her dedication to making a positive impact in the community exemplifies the potential of pageantry as a platform for youth to create real social change.

Editor: Hillary is reaching out to seek the support from the Filipino community for her pageant journey.

“The contestant with the most votes will be automatically fast tracked into the Top 5 of Miss Canterbury on the final night,” says Hillary.

“To vote – simply like, comment on and share the photo of your favourite contestant.

“In order for your vote to count, you must also like the Miss Canterbury facebook page (we will be running this through a third-party app). You can also vote on our Instagram page.
1 Like = 1 Point
1 Comment = 3 Points (per person not per comment)
1 Share = 5 Points (per person).”

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